December 14, 2008

Prayers of the People

John H. Boyle, Parish Associate

In a world filled with bad news about political scandal in high places, an economy in shambles, a war that seems never to end—to say nothing of the host of personal and private troubles and tragedies that make their way into each of our lives—we are all in need of good news, O God.

We are grateful that there is the good news of Jesus Christ and of your forgiving love made known in him. We are grateful that in a culture of corruption there is the good news of your cleansing grace, that in times of rack and ruin there is the good news of repentance and change, that in a world where human flesh is cheap and people are often treated like dirt in the corner there is the good news that in Christ we are beloved, and that in times of testing and temptation there is the good news that you are ever with us to strengthen and help us and to cause us to stand. In a world of bad news, we are grateful, O God, for the good news of Jesus Christ our Lord.

Prepare us, dear God, that nothing we do will profane the meaning and spirit of this Advent season and that nothing we think or feel by way of sorrow will stand in the way of our experience of joy in the knowledge of the good news of your wanting to be with us so badly that you came to meet us in Jesus Christ and to be with us in all of the ups and downs of life.

God of hope, keep alive in us the longing for peace in our hearts and in the world. Keep alive in us the longing for justice for people who are exploited and violated by those who look upon others as things to be used rather than as persons to be handled with care and treated with compassion. Keep alive in us the longing for such an awareness of your presence with us and your love for us that we shall trust that we are not alone in spite of what our feelings at the moment may tell us otherwise.

God of mercy, through your servants in various ministries of healing, come to the aid of all who cry out in pain, all who crave comfort in their sorrow, all who seek reassurance in the face of death, and all who are afraid in the face of life.

Hover with your truth and justice over the nations of the world, and by the power of your word, transform those who govern into disciples of justice, mercy, and humility before you and the people they govern.

In these days of debt and bankruptcy, we are reminded, loving God, that apart from your grace and mercy we are all in debt and bankrupt. For none of us can repay the debt of love we owe. We can only give ourselves away. It is all that we can do. So, O God, help us, out of gratitude, to do just that—to give ourselves away in love and service in a needy world.

So come, dear Lord; come to comfort us, not with the comfort of cushiness but with the comfort of courage.

Come and comfort us that we shall come home with shouts of joy.

We pray in the name of the one whose coming we await, Jesus Christ the Lord, and with the words he used in teaching his disciples to pray, say,

Our Father . . .